Handi Products 1:
Handihelp has decided to provide information on commercially available products which we are using or have used that make life a lot easier. Some of these are inexpensive and some more costly, but all have given me more control over my environment and improved my quality of life. The information here only represents my opinion. All have held up well to frequent abuse.
*Dual Side Heat Blanket:
Being cold the majority of the day and night is no fun. Electric blankets seem to develop problems from having the wires bent when the bed is made. It is also dicey leaving it on all night. I had often thought about getting and using a well-made space blanket as a sheet, but never did. Make Life Easier stole my idea. This clever design lets you become your own heat-generating furnace. One side is a foam-lined, NASA-inspired metallic material (space blanket) that reflects your body heat. The other is a plush, thick poly/acrylic blend that’s soft to the touch and holds warmth as well. (Cost $22) Place underneath your fitted sheet or on top of your flat sheet as you sleep in cold weather.
The Higgins Utility Hook:
Once again Make Life Easier as an inexpensive tool ($9) available for people with limited grip and compromised range of motion. It is a hook-like reaching tool similar to the The Shaft found on Handihelp. It is made of recycled plastic, has no moving parts, requires no squeezing to operate and no trigger. It is extremely flexible and is nowhere near as rigid as it looks in the picture. The "claw" like end can easily be used to hook and then draw objects closer to make them available. Adding Stops would enable the user to lift lightweight items off the ground. Wrapping the top part of the handle with the "hook" portion of Velcro would allow more objects to be retrieved.
The handle is similar to the short Wooden Handle only it is much more versatile. It is designed as a camera handle/tripod but for an individual with grip issues it can be much more useful. The UltraPod GO™ is ultralight, ultra-compact and inexpensive. It folds to fit in your pocket or bag, or leave attached to the camera and use it as a handle. The unique shape makes gripping easy and a cell phone adapter is available. It is easier to control that the Gorillapod.
If you're a quadiplegic chances are you're cold most of the time. Fingerless gloves help keep not only your hands warm but the cuffs pulled up over your sleeves help keep drafts from going up your arms yet your fingers are alway available. At Nisee's Needles all the products are hand knit and custom orders are welcome. The cuffs on mine were lengthened by 2". The gloves are well made, warm and very reasonably priced.
A company named Joby has developed a number of products under the brand name Gorillapod which, while not specially designed for people with disabilities could easily be used to solve some problems we face. The most useful one, in my opinion would be the Gorillapod Grip Tight Mount which is designed to hold a cell phone. The company describes the tripod:
"Gorillapod consist of fully articulating ball-and-socket joints that bend and twist into any shape – enabling you to place it virtually anywhere. Soft rubber rings and feet grip most surfaces, keeping the tripod from slipping. A rugged mount with grippy rubber pads secures your phone at any angle. Small enough to fit in your pocket."
In addition to the phone holder there is The Gorillatorch 100 Flashlight using LED technology and the feet of the mount are magnetic to easily attach to a car. The Gorillapod Original applies the same principles to a tripod for a compact digital camera. Gorillapod products are also available at LL Bean.
Overshoes are designed to go over your regular shoes to protect them from ice and snow and provide warmth. Some are available with Stabilicers, which are discussed below, built into the tread. They come in insulated and non-insulated models. NOES overshoes are easy to take on and off because they open completely and after your shoe is in they close up neatly and Velcro close.. The lowest prices I found were at Runsoft which included shipping and handling. If you're planning on purchasing a pair pay close attention to the sizing charts.
Over - Mittens:
Quad Mitts, which are most practical for a quadriplegic, allow some air to penetrate especially in cold weather. If you have spent any time outside in the winter you have most likely heard of over-mittens. They are mittens made to go over regular mittens to keep out wind and precipitation. I wanted to get a pair without thumbs, for use with my knit mittens, so I went on line and found Luke's Ultralite who make many different outdoor products. Much to my delight they were more than happy to make me a thumb less pair for me at a reasonable price.
Grip Strap Wrench:
If grip strength is a problem for you here is an extremely useful tool. The grip wrench is the one tool that does it all. It grips without damaging surfaces. Loosen most anything in one easy motion. Simply place the rubber loop over what you are trying to open. Pull the excess rubber to tighten the loop, hold the handle and the grip wrench’s unique gripping and locking action, combined with the power of the handle lets you easily open, loosen, or tighten in one easy motion. The durable rubber strap and the heavy-duty plastic handle allows you to easily grip any size or shape. I’ve used it on everything from the lids on stubborn jars to opening and tightening a drill chuck. Just search on the internet for a supplier. Prices range from about $5.00 for 1 to around $10 for 2 different size ones.
We were in the middle of the Ice Storm of 2013. Everything was covered with at least an 1” of ice. There were over 20,000 people in Jefferson County without electricity. No unnecessary travel. By pure chance my wife, who is able-bodied, bought an inexpensive pair of adaptive foot-gear a few days before the storm and they work great. It dawned on me there must be many individuals with disabilities for whom walking on ice is treacherous. This adap-tive foot wear would be great for them.They are called Stabilicers Lite and are available from L.L. Bean for $21.95 with free shipping. Stabilicers attach to virtually any shoe type in seconds, roll up easily and small enough for caring in a purse or workbag.
Handcycles, I feel, until recently were designed for paraplegics and so required upper body strength and strong grip to ride effectively. For a high level quad (C5, C6) these cycles are always going to be a challenge to use, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be used or are not fun to use. In 2002 I bought an Excelerator XLT Pro handcycle. The two biggest problems, I believe, faced most often by quadriplegics when riding are “peddling” and shifting. Recent efforts have improved both.
A few years ago I also bought a pair of C5 grip gloves. I have been using them for a number of years now. They have worked so well that I had my stationary Saratoga Cycle converted so I could use them with it in the winter. The C5 grip gloves eliminate the grip issue while keeping your hands ergonomically comfortable position. The problem I have had with shifting is that by the time I free my hand from the crank and am able to perform the shift the bike has lost most of its momentum. Shifting is better but still presents some issues. The female end of the grips attaches to the crank and the male piece on the glove fits into it. You can control the amount of pressure it takes to release your hand
An LED light like the one at the right was a life saver when my wheelchair broke down coming home in the dark from hunting. The amount of illumination from this small flashlight is amazing. The attachment, which rotates 360⁰, is made for a cane but can easily be adapted to a variety of wheelchair tubing.
*Remote Wireless Switching Device:
Plug-in adapters allow you to turn on or off lights or appliances from one place in your house. Kits can be purchased at Amazon.com Remote Wireless Switches and you can chose the number of plug-is you want. The switching device and three outlet controls around $20.
Cell Phone Sleeve:
Recently, I purchased an inexpensive device that allows a cell phone to be strapped on my wrist and be completely accessible all the time. Since the phone is voice-activated I only have to push one button and I have the ability to reach 911, neighbors and friends. These wrist sleeves are available in most stores and cost around $15. The front of the phone holder is clear vinyl so you can see the home screen and all the buttons. The vinyl covering seems to have absolutely no effect on the touch sensitivity of the phone. The sleeve itself slides onto your wrist and is held in place by a strap which can be tightened. I have used it over several layers of clothing and it functions very well.
Camelbak Eddy .75- Liter Bottle:
Even drinking can be a source of frustration for individuals with disabilities. I have come up with quite a few modifications myself to make drinking and accessing drink containers easier. However, I believe I have found a commercially available water bottle which needs little modification and is easy to get a hold of and even easier to use. The major advantage is that the liquid comes up an internal tube which eliminates any tilting, bottle or head, to empty the bottle which can prove to be difficult for anyone with range of motion problems. The only modification I made was to add grip tape to improve grip-ability because of the taper of the bottle we put the pieces vertically to insure a good fit. The Camelbak eddy has a capacity of 25 oz., a bite valve and a wide mouth for easy filling or cleaning. It is spill proof, BPA free and all parts are upper dishwasher safe. ($14) at Campmor